Used Seat Leon (2013-present) long-term test review

Does the Seat Leon – our 2018 used car of the year winner – still make for a great used purchase and how does the cylinder deactivation technology fitted to its 1.4 EcoTSI engine work in the real...

Used Seat Leon long-termer at dealer
  • The car 2017 Seat Leon 1.4 EcoTSI FR Technology
  • Run by Max Adams, used cars reporter
  • Why it’s here To find out if our 2018 Used Car of the Year still represents a stonking used purchase
  • Needs to Cope with the daily commute and occasional long-distance trips, as well as establish whether the fuel-saving tech makes financial sense against the cheaper 1.4 TSI 125 model

Price when new £25,245 (including £1885 worth of options) Value on arrival £15,194 Value now £15,041 (trade in) Miles on arrival 5583 Mileage now 6885 Official economy 57.6mpg Test economy 50.9mpg

2 August 2018 – the Seat Leon joins our fleet

“It’ll either be this or an Audi A3 I'll buy.” That was the conclusion of our videography apprentice Oli after poking around my Seat Leon.

That he could be so quickly impressed by it is no surprise; the Leon is an excellent car in its own right and is essentially the same underneath as the A3. But as good as it is new, it’s on the used market that the Leon makes most sense, with a 67-plate car in our favoured 1.4 EcoTSI FR Technology spec almost £10,000 cheaper than it would have been originally.

The Leon looks such good value, in fact, that we named it our 2018 Used Car of the Year. And that’s why I’ve just taken delivery of the car Oli so admired – a post-facelift model in Mystery Blue paintwork.

As part of the handover at SMC Seat Woking, sales manager Martin Lang took me through the various features, including the 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system, which was only introduced with the facelift.

FR Technology Leons also comes with Full-link, which includes MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. And the original owner of my car specced the optional Driving Assistance Pack (£350), which includes automatic high beam assist, lane-keeping assistance and traffic sign recognition.

My car is also fitted with a Storage Pack (£210), with hidden cubbies fitted under both of the front seats and a variable-height boot floor. And I’ve got a Convenience Pack (£240) which includes LED interior lighting, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and automatic lights and wipers.

With the tour of the car over, Martin and I headed inside to deal with the paperwork. Seat’s approved used scheme has been altered recently to bring it in line with the schemes offered by fellow Volkswagen Group brands Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen.

Used Seat Leon (2013-present) long-term test review

The most noteworthy change is that the used multi-point check has gone from 102 to 142 points. But while it’s not relevant to me, the scheme also offers a year’s MOT protection on cars that are old enough to require a test in the 12 months after purchase.

If your car doesn’t pass, you can claim up to £750 towards the cost of repairs. However, the small print reveals that this excludes wear-and-tear, and given that most cars fail on perishable items (the most common item being blown bulbs), this ‘benefit’ isn’t necessarily that big.

Formalities over, it was time to hit the road, and what immediately struck me was the smoothness of the engine. The 1.4 EcoTSI fitted to our Leon has just been replaced with a slightly enlarged 1.5-litre engine that promises better fuel economy, but I’d suggest that the older version in our car is a little smoother and quieter.

What isn’t noticeable, however, is the 1.4-litre engine’s cylinder deactivation technology. There’s simply no difference to the way the car feels when it shuts down two of the engine’s four cylinders. And, on paper at least, it makes the Leon just as frugal as my old Volkswagen Polo, which is impressive stuff for a larger, heavier car with twice the power.

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